Breast Cancer : Study Seeks Participants, Exhibit Tours

by Melinda L. Shelton

In an effort to collect accurate data on lesbians and bisexual women who are at-risk for breast cancer, such as their knowledge of detection and treatment, a nationwide study is seeking additional participants.

"The Breast Cancer Risk Education Program for Lesbians and Bisexual Women," being conducted by researchers at the Georgetown University Medical Center's Lombardi Cancer Center in Washington, D.C., seeks:

"There was intense lobbying by the lesbian community for a study such as this because there just isn't good data available," said Dr. Caroline Burnett, the study director and a researcher at Lombardi's Division of Cancer Prevention and Control. "More importantly, we want to dispel myths based on inaccurate or absent data regarding lesbians' and bisexual women's attitudes and beliefs about breast cancer, especially those who are at risk."

After interviewing at-risk lesbians and bisexual women, Burnett said researchers will compare results to those from similar studies of heterosexual, at-risk women. Questions will explore the participants' adherence to breast cancer screening guidelines and their beliefs and anxieties related to their at-risk status, and determine if there is any relation between occurrence of the disease and participants' nulliparity (never having children), smoking, alcohol intake and past weight history.

"Our goal is to educate these women about their risk factors based on the information we collect," Burnett said. A free education program designed specifically for at-risk lesbians and bisexual women is available to study participants.

Women interested in the study should call 202-687-0647. If long-distance callers leave their name and telephone number, a research team member will return the call. All information is kept confidential, Burnett said.

The study will continue throughout 1996 and is being conducted in association with the Mautner Project for Lesbians with Cancer and the Lesbian Health Clinic of the Whitman-Walker Clinic in Washington, D.C. It is funded through the Office of Research on Women's Health and National Institutes for Health.

Photographic Essay Tour Continues

The national tour of "The Face of Breast Cancer, A Photographic Essay," sponsored by The National Breast Cancer Coalition Fund, will include stops in Ohio, Maine and Iowa. The exhibit is a moving photo essay of women who have or have had breast cancer, including the late May Sarton, a prominent lesban writer who recently died.

Tour stops include:

Further information on the essay and its tour can be obtained by contacting Barbara Frank at NBCCF headquarters in Washington, D.C., at 202-296-7477, ext. 115.

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